So long, Google Voice

I signed up for Google Voice in about 2008 or 2009. This was back when providers actually charged you for text messages and I didn’t really use them. So I registered for an account and didn’t do a whole lot with it until I changed jobs and ended up in the basement. RIP cell phone signal. Google Voice made it possible to call one number and ring either my cell phone if I was above ground or my office phone if I was in the office.

It turns out that was pretty useful to me, so by the time I was moved to a different office, my Google Voice number was the number I told everyone to use. Being able to text and make phone calls from my web browser was a great feature. But as carriers started catching up, Google Voice sat stagnant. I braced myself for Google to decide they were going to drop the service.

Instead, they finally added the ability to send and receive pictures. In 2014. For a long time, that was only available if you used Hangouts for your Voice messages. But then the Voice app got support and all was right with the world. Unless you wanted to do videos. It’s something Google is supposedly close to rolling out.

But a few weeks ago, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Watch. That meant making phone calls or sending texts would come from my carrier number. Since I’ve been giving people my Google Voice number for nearly a decade, I figured that would just lead to confusion. So I decided to ditch Google Voice and port my number to my carrier.

It was fairly straightforward, albeit slightly slow. This is apparently due to the fact that Google Voice numbers are treated as landlines, so there’s more process involved. But not getting texts reliably for a few days was much easier than trying to get everyone to switch to using a new number for me.

I decided that the features I use are more important than the features I don’t use. I haven’t had Google Voice forward to anything except my cell phone for years. T-Mobile’s DIGITS service provides the web-based functionality I got from Google Voice (admittedly not quite as well, but I expect they’ll catch up). While I don’t often talk to my phone, the fact that Google Assistant can’t use Google Voice to send messages is a longstanding frustration.

Google had a chance to really make a great product here. Apart from search and GMail, Google Voice was the most valuable Google service for me. But the years of seeming neglect finally took its toll. Maybe some day I’ll move my number back, but for right now, I don’t really miss it.

3 thoughts on “So long, Google Voice

  1. I’ve been wondering why I stay on Voice for years now. All I’m really using is CC to gmail, and text from Chrome. How has it been for you so far?

    I’m waiting on a Galaxy Watch now and going through the same conversation in my head.

  2. Hi Danny, thanks for your comment. I’ve been pretty happy with DIGITS so far. There are three main annoyances:
    1. Verizon customers couldn’t SMS me for a while due to some error on Verizon’s part during the port. T-Mobile support tried everything they could, but I eventually had to ask my sister (a Verizon customer) to call Verizon support and talk to them. It’s now fixed.
    2. The web client is prone to slowness with long conversations and if I leave it open when i’m away from the computer, it will potentially cause new messages to be marked as read on my phone shortly after receiving it.
    3. Messages from some automated services (MailChimp 2FA, Nixle, etc) don’t show up in the web client. It has basically no actual impact on me, though.

    All told, I don’t find myself missing Google Voice at all in the 7-ish months since I moved away. I haven’t used the text-from-watch feature much, but it’s very handy (heh) when I do.

  3. Pingback: Switching from consumer Gmail to G Suite – Blog FiascoBlog Fiasco

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